The Intersection of Gender, Rape and Just War Theory


Lauren Wilcox analyzes the concept of just war and its connection with gender orientation as well as rape in the historical perpetration. In the light of the war context, Just war is the clause that implied that war could be moral and justifiable. For this kind of war, two principles; the just ad bellum and just in bellum are regulatory of what makes it justifiable to wage war and the proper war conduct as well. Despite the faint imagination that war could be an effective tool to achieving peace, realists and pacifists have inherently disputed the idea of just war. 

The just war theory cuts across the parameters of gender and rape in the traditional and contemporary society. As it is, just war propelled the use of gender for identification and to create hierarchical positions. In this view, feminists argued that women and children were objectified and this defies the discriminatory clause for which both combatants and non-combatants ought to be protected. The inclusion of rape in war crime in the medieval ages was met adversely. The crime though infringing on the humanitarian rights was eventually categorized as a war crime given the spate of rape cases in times of war. 

In the contemporary nature f conflict and war, the just war concept is very inadequate and for the larger part remains a theme of ancient war. Today’s conflicts and war are characterized by digitalized weapons, terrorist attacks and extreme armory. This kind of wars occur way beyond the restraint and proportionality frameworks of just war. Besides this, there are wide differences in terms of gender hegemony between just war and the contemporary conflicts (Allhoff, Evans and Henschke 2013)However, the perspective of having just war compels re-visions of just war to address military commands and feminist issues that may shape more civilized war if not just war. 

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Just war on its own has been and continues to be a subject to discussion from theorists for since the 19th century. In this continuum the precepts discussed along with it, that is gender and rape specifically are very elusive. Rape for instance, staggered between a family crimes to a war crime back in the day till the Geneva Convention defined it more precisely (Seifert 2006). However, over time, feminists vocal enough on the issue continue to for more attention and better justice on rape in general and rape in war. The article does adequately track the progress in addressing rape yet this does not answer all questions pertinent to this. The one crucial part that is omitted is the perception of rape as a property crime where women were nothing much more than property. This is remarkably among the rigorous efforts of feminists that if emphasized on could fuel more reforms in curtailing the many forms of feminism (Goldstein 2003).

Throughout the article, individuals, groups and legal structures are the instrumental parties in shaping war and the affected dimensions. The legal structures take a central part by legislating policies that restrict certain conduct and even further giving verdicts following litigations. The most important factor in this, is the level on which parties interact. Readers would actually questions why legal structure are not fully into either prohibiting war or fully enforcing ethical war but rather an intermediate. Having the legal structures in the picture, the key question that is not clearly articulated is the role of this branch in conflict and war. Conceptualizing this, it would be easy to strike an approach to leverage the best results on the critical issues. 

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  1. Allhoff, F., Evans, N.G. and Henschke, A. eds., 2013. Routledge Handbook of Ethics and War: Just War Theory in the 21st Century. Routledge.
  2. Goldstein, J.S., 2003. War and gender. In Encyclopedia of sex and gender (pp. 107-116). Springer US.
  3. Seifert, R., 2006, April. The second front: The logic of sexual violence in wars. In Women’s Studies International Forum (Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 35-43). Pergamon.
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